Interviewed By Dervon Wallace
I recently sat down with Cricket Hall of Fame nominee Venelda Wallace, to get an insight on her nomination and a look into cricket in America from her perspective, while also seeking some answers to her passion for the sport.

Venelda Wallace with cricket mentor Hugh Pitter.

Venelda Fact File
Name: Venelda Wallace
D.O.B:  10/17
Place of birth:  Brooklyn, NY – grew up in St. Andrew Jamaica
Education: UTech, Anderson University, LIU –C.W. Post
Degrees/Certifications: BA Accounting, MBA Finance, CPA
Occupation: CPA & Professor
Favorite International team: West Indies
Most admired cricketer: Brian Lara
Favorite Food: Italian
Favorite Drink:  Jamaican Fruit Punch
Favorite quote: Life is not fair, live with it

Following is a Q&A session between me and the talented cricket administrator:
DW: Good day Miss Wallace thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to accommodate me.
VW: Not a problem. Thank, you for your time.

DW: At what age and how did you develop your love for cricket?
VW: When I was younger I tried to play cricket, but my eyesight wasn’t good enough, I lacked the hand-eye coordination. So I just moved on to other sports that I was able to dominate.  My netball team –Pacesetters merged with Villagers Cricket team in 1998, this was when I started to be involved in cricket. The men were forced to watch & support the ladies, and we were forced to support the men.  It was my unconditional love for my affiliation with my Club – Villagers that awakened my passion for the game.

DW:  At what level you played netball and did you play any other sports?
VW: I have played netball for Ardenne High School, EXED, CAST/UTech, Jamaica –U19, and USA National Team.  I also participated in track & field for Ardenne, EXED, and got a track scholarship to attend CAST/UTech and then Anderson University in Indiana.

DW: How long have you been part of cricket in the USA?
VW:  Since 1998

DW: What past roles have you held in USA cricket locally and nationally?
VW: Manager of various cricket teams both male and female – USA Women’s Team Manager, NYCR Women’s Manager, Villagers Manager, Villagers Secretary, NYCR Women’s Coordinator, NYCR Treasurer, NYMDCA Recording Secretary, CoolTech Cricket Manager, Long Island Masters Manager, Liaison for the Roy Sweeney West Indies vs. USA Tournament.

DW: I see you are a woman of many hats, what role you presently hold in USA cricket locally and nationally?
VW: NYCR Women’s Coordinator, NYMDCA Recording Secretary, Villagers Manager, Long Island Masters Manager, Villagers Secretary

Villagers captain Cliff Roye and Venedal Wallace poses with New York Metropolitan Cricket League (NYMCL) 2013 Clement “Busta” Lawrence Round Robin championship trophy earlier this year.

DW: What’s your vision for cricket in the USA?
VW: Cricket is one of the oldest sport in the USA, unfortunately the development and growth of the sport is negatively correlated with the number of years it has been existed.  I need for us, especially those that are at the grassroots who can relate; we need to work cohesively together for the ONE GOOD – not for your individual countries that you immigrated from, but for the UNITED AMERICA.  The schools are the most important avenue for cricket.  Once we have infiltrated the schools with the sport, it’s only a matter of time for Cricket to hit mainstream.  We as cricket administrators need to study how the game of Soccer became a Sport in the USA.  We need to analyze the timing, planning, implementation, growth and development of Soccer in the United States. After such research is done, and we have decided to work together cricket will eventually become a “Recognized” Sport of this country.

DW: What do you think USACA heads can do to improve the quality of USA national teams?
VW: I have always insisted that USACA need to have an ongoing training/camps for our national squad.  It is very unrealistic for us to expect our national team to perform/compete against the other international teams that prepares for their competition continuously, while our team prepares two weeks or so before the competition.  We need to have more international practice games, also international tournaments need to be played here in the USA.  There are many countries that would love to play in the USA.  As for our senior team, we need to have professional cricketers – meaning that Cricket is their Job – they are paid a salary commensurate with their experience & performance/ as well as the cost of living -therefore they are available when USACA needs them.

DW: What has been your most memorable moment as a cricket administrator?
VW: I have two – 1) Villagers Cricket Team winning our first Premier Cup in 2011 after knocking on the door for so many years. 2) Building and managing the first USACA Women’s Team that qualified to playoff against Canada for a chance to go to the World Cup. (Note: the USACA Women’s team went to the World Cup)

DW: What has been your most disappointed moment as a cricket administrator?
VW: Women’s Cricket – It is very hard to build but it is so easy to be torn down.  Our ladies need to stick together and fight together for what they believe in and not be easily led astray by our Men.  Also not everything that glitters is gold.  Our ladies like things easy, they think the men gets it easy, so if they are in need of something, whomever that comes along that “sells” a good story, they are gone like the wind.  There is no loyalty anymore for both genders and that in itself is very disappointing.

DW: How do you stay focus amidst all the criticism that has been labeled against an association you are a part of?
VW: I do not let criticism be an obstacle.  There are positive and negative criticism, you use them accordingly; some to improve and some to ignore.  My main focus is on My Region – New York.  My administration has the confidence in me and has given me a task to Coordinate Women’s Cricket in our Region and my job is to get it done no matter what.  New York Cricket Region sets the trend for all other Regions to follow, I am proud to be a part of that achievement.

DW: What was it like the moment you found out you had been nominated to the USA Cricket Hall of Fame?
VW: It felt great. I was honored to even be considered.  I thank my cricket mentor, Mr. Pitter for his reference of nomination for induction and also the late Mr. Sweeney who endorsed my nomination.  I would also like to thank Cliff Roye, Ruby Harrisingh, Krish Prasad, John Aaron, Lesly Lowe, Clarence Modeste, Lester Hooper, Jeff Miller, Balister McLeish, and Samuel Belnavis for their letters of recommendation and support for my nomination.

DW: Thanks  for your time and congratulations to you my name sake {jokingly from the first time I met you at a Villagers game in 2009 I saw how passionate you were about what you do so it was no surprise when I found out we share the same last name which drew me to start assisting you at Villagers} My admiration for you grew in 2010 when Villagers travelled to Poughkeepsie for a game against River Valley while you were in labor and through all the pain you found time to call and text to see how the game was going even sending instructions for the captain.
VW:  That pain as they say is a forgotten one however the victory for that particular game will always be remembered.  Thanks again and I hope that our relationship is perpetual as is our Name.

Long lasting it will be and last but not least congratulations to your beloved Villagers on a great 2013 season.
VW: Villagers for life, big up Captain Cliff Roye and the team, special thanks to Steve Massiah who joined us this season lots of love to the guys.